A retail and restaurant guide to benefiting from the royal wedding

union jack bunting

Jeremy Michael provides advice for retailers, restaurant owners and publicans looking to cash in on Prince William and Kate Middleton's big day.

With just days to go before Kate Middleton joins 'the family', savvy entrepreneurs can take advantage of the historic event. Around £6m is expected to be spent by consumers so retailers, restaurant and cafe owners and publicans have an opportunity to turn first time visitors into loyal customers for life.

With festivities providing a massive boost to sales, businesses should be rolling out and developing themed merchandise and memorabilia to capture the country's excitement. Princess Catherine Barbie dolls, royal wedding iPhone covers and Union Jack plates, cups and saucers are among the thousands of products launched to cash in on the big day.
 
Restaurants, pubs and cafes can also develop ways to encourage customers to spend the big day with them. Many for instance have launched themed menus. Pub chains such as Marston's Inns and Taverns have launched royal wedding specials with limited edition choices such as Prince Sea Bass, Steak Royale and Chicken Windsor. In addition, the Park Lane Hilton and Dukes Hotel in London have special royal afternoon tea menus with 'Sapphire Tea' and royal blue macaroons allowing customers to dine like royalty.
 
With an estimated two million people expected to take part in street parties retailers can also use the opportunity to develop appropriate products such as union jack cakes and bridal bubbly. ASDA for example has in-store areas dedicated to the wedding; Tesco has produced a £16 version of the dress Kate Middleton wore when the couple announced their engagement and sales of rings at Dorothy Perkins similar to that given by William to Kate have soared. 
 
Hints and tips
 
Entrepreneurs need to ensure that staff are prepared and managed properly to guarantee customers have an enjoyable time. Business owners cannot allow themselves to miss delivery deadlines or compromise on customer service because of inadequate preparation. This can have a negative effect on sales and retailers and restaurants should take this chance to grow their existing customer base. It is inevitable that restaurants and pubs will get overcrowded or stock may run out in stores, but those that have contingency plans in place will ensure that a high level of customer service is delivered.
 
Some things that retailers need to consider:
  • When stock runs out: If faced with this problem, offer customers a substitute to avoid disappointment, including an alternative product or phoning another store to check the product's availability.
  • Avoiding queues: No one enjoys queuing and it can be very off-putting to customers. Large queues are unavoidable however as many people will be shopping in preparation for the royal wedding. Retailers should focus on having as many tills open as possible to avoid customer frustration. SMG research reveals that if a customer has to queue for more than two minutes and observes three closed tills, it will give an impression of poor queue management.
  • Store design and layout: Store design sets customer expectations. The main factors retailers need to address are cleanliness, speed of checkout and ease of locating items. Stores should have themed display sections at the entrance to instantly attract customers. Similarly, when customers are queuing it is advisable to have a selection of merchandise on show to encourage additional impulse purchases.
  • Staff attitude: Staff should always have a smile on their face remembering that a happy retailer means a happy customer which leads to happy finances. Customers do not want to be greeted by an unhappy and disengaged sales assistant. The royal wedding will be extremely busy so preparing staff will ensure courteous service to customers.
  • Paying attention to customers: Put yourself in your customers' shoes. The lead up to the royal wedding will be hectic so listening to customers' suggestions and criticisms during this time will help build and attract loyal customers.
Some things restaurants need to consider are:
 
  • How to accommodate customers when a restaurant is full: Suggest an alternative time to return and acknowledge that you would like to seat them. Most customers will be more understanding and patient if they are made aware of the situation straight away.
  • Provide staff incentives: Most staff will be on their feet all day and unable to join in the festivities. Providing incentives is beneficial because they will feel involved, rewarded and appreciated during the busy day.
  • Don't be dismissive to customers: It is inevitable that during the festivities restaurants will get overcrowded but rather than see this as a problem, staff should capitalise on the new wealth of customers. SMG research shows that customers will be more understanding and patient if they are recognised and dealt with accordingly. Therefore staff should acknowledge potential customers immediately and offer help until they can be seated.

Jeremy Michael is managing director at SMG UK.

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